Calcutta, March 16: Several nationalised, private and foreign bank branches in and around the city will be closed tomorrow in response to a strike called by the Bengal Provincial Bank Employees’ Association (BPBEA) to protest against “police atrocities” this morning at a foreign bank branch on Brabourne Road.
Branches of the State Bank of India and a few other banks are likely to function normally though the strike organisers have threatened to picket such branches from early morning.
Trouble began at 7 am when a large police contingent headed by senior officers and accompanied by officials of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi arrived at its closed Brabourne Road branch to retrieve properties and other belongings. The branch was shut down on August 6 last year after the management decided to close it for operational reasons.
About 50 employees, who had lost their jobs as a result of the decision, were waiting to resist any attempt to clear out the branch premises. They squatted at the entrance to stop the team from entering the bank.
The bank authorities said in a statement in the evening that police assistance had been sought and provided according to a court order. The bank’s officials and police carried out the operation peacefully.
But the All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) claimed that the police action was violent and unprovoked. “They even heckled the women,” said association general secretary Tarakeshwar Chakraborty.
Police arrested BPBEA leaders Rakhal Das and Pabitra Chatterjee and 18 volunteers, including four women, for trying to resist the force on duty. They were taken to the central lockup at Lalbazar.
After the incident, members of the BPBEA, an affiliate of AIBEA, called an emergency meeting and gave a call for the bank strike. “We will ensure that banks in Calcutta and its fringe areas remain closed tomorrow,” Chakraborty added.
A spokesman for the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi said the bank has “complied with all applicable laws and regulations while effecting closure of the Calcutta branch”. BPBEA members alleged repeated attempts to open a dialogue with the foreign bank to compensate the employees have failed.